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Flexibility and worklife balance WORKS final international conference 89 October 2008 Rome Reports V


... countries and contexts with high levels of informality in the labour market? ... Flexibility and the informal labour market. Atypical forms of work ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Flexibility and worklife balance WORKS final international conference 89 October 2008 Rome Reports V

Flexibility and work-life balance - WORKS final
international conference 8-9 October 2008 - Rome
Reports Value chain restructuring and company
strategies to reach flexibility Jörg Flecker,
Ursula Holtgrewe, Annika Schönauer (FORBA),
Stavros Gavroglou (KEKMOKOP)Working time, gender
and work-life balance Bettina-Johanna Krings
(ITAS), Linda Nierling (ITAS),Marcello Pedaci
(IRES),Mariangela Piersanti (IRES)
  • Intervention by José Ricardo Ramalho
  • (UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro)

General comments
  • Excellent reports -gt research findings, from an
    European point of view, that are essential for
    the general discussion about flexibility and work
    in a global perspective.
  • The need to extend the research to other parts of
    the world, especially the ones that are integral
    part of the value chain and that have a quite
    different approach to labour issues.
  • The findings show very different contexts inside
    Europe, but there is little reference to the fact
    that an important part of the restructuring of
    firms is due to the new division of tasks in the
    world market, with the inclusion of less
    industrialised countries and regions.

General comments (2)
  • The possibility of including in the analysis new
    experiences of flexibility from a value chain
    perspective in less industrialised countries,
    with less formalized labour market and different
    approach to trade unions, state regulations and
  • The need to consider and to stress in future
    developments the overall reactions of organised
    workers, trade unions to the introduction of new
    flexible strategies.
  • The need to consider in our analysis the role of
    local political and economic actors in the
    discussion about forms of development and the
    consequences of labour changes to the localities
    and regions.

Comments and questions about the thematic reports
  • About the restructuring of the value chain and
  • (externalization and higher levels of numerical
    flexibility worsening working conditions and
    non-standard employment power relations between
  • Although the findings can be also confirmed in
    relation to other nodes of the value chain
    outside Europe, there are other aspects about the
    introduction of flexibility that could be object
    of more discussion, especially if compared with
    other parts of the world.
  • New models of flexibility? The case of the
    modular consortium inaugurated in the
    Volkswagen plant in Brazil is probably a good
    example of how the debate about outsourcing and
    subcontracting can be seen in different ways

Comments and questions
  • The modular consortium
  • The first experience where the process of
    transferring responsibilities in the value chain
    was done inside the same plant.
  • There was no externalisation of the main
    subcontracted firms. On the contrary, they were
    invited to act inside the same plant.
  • In relation to the main suppliers -gt there was no
    worsening of the working conditions and
    non-standard employment. The seven firms of the
    VW consortium, although independent for hiring
    their employees, have to follow the bargaining
    process negotiated by the main firm VW.

Comments and questions
  • The wages were the same in all firms of the
    modular consortium, although workers belong to
    different subcontracted firms.
  • Different levels of subcontracting, but all work
    under the same roof.
  • The firms of the modular consortium are also
    multinational companies but submit themselves to
    the command of VW.
  • This experience has been developed in a green
    field site (weak trade union, labour market
    dominated by informal jobs).

Comments and questions
  • The role of localities
  • Delocalization -gt the tendency of dividing the
    world market into regions and the search for
    fiscal incentives from municipalities and
    regional and national governments. The search
    also for places with low trade union
  • The importance of the locality in the discussion
    about the flexible firm. In countries like
    Brazil, where democratic participation is a
    permanent struggle, the possibility of local
    political and economic actors to discuss
    strategies of development which include the
    flexible firm, is something that can be very

Comments and questions
  • The redefinition of the relationship of the firms
    with the territory where they are established.
  • The fact that the locality is an important part
    of the network of firms, especially because of
    the workers, training, education and fiscal
    incentives gives some strength and bargaining
    power to the local.

Comments and questions
  • About flexibility and forms of employment
    (Exaggeration to speak of an erosion of the
    standard employment relationship nationally
    specific institutional contexts have an impact on
    the response of organisations to the changes in
    work and the company strategies and policies).
  • How to consider in the value chain restructuring,
    countries and contexts with high levels of
    informality in the labour market?

Comments and questions
  • In the Brazilian labour market, for example,
    there has been two developments
  • a) there has been a strong campaign for the
    flexibilisation to the sector of the labour
    market that is formalized and regulated by labour
  • b) the precarisation of employment in the formal
    labour market and the combination of formal and
    informal work activities with the degradation of
    working conditions.

Comments and questions
  • Externalisation of risks and costs to labour -gt
    true also in most cases of restructuring in
  • The strategy of externalizing risks and costs has
    been very much used, but at some point, this
    strategy has been presented as not desirable for
    the image of the firm in the market, to have the
    firms trade mark associated to different forms
    of precarious, or degrading jobs.
  • The trade unions have been campaigning and trying
    to connect work conditions along the value chain
    in order to avoid and condemn indecent work.
    (There has been cases of slave labour in
    important chains of production.)

Comments and questions
  • The fragmentation into core and peripheral
  • The experience of the modular consortium that has
    been spreading in different regions of the world
    does not confirm the idea of staff separated into
    core and peripheral workforce.
  • In the case of the automobile industry, with the
    strategy of dividing the market into different
    regions, not only the more simple tasks were
    directed to the underdeveloped countries but also
    more complex tasks.

Comments and questions
  • The engineering and design of vehicles, for
    example, have been transferred to countries like
    Brazil, because there are well formed people but
    also because even in this level of employment the
    salaries are lower than in Europe or the US. So,
    countries like Brazil, with the flexible firm has
    acquired a better position in the value chain.
  • Qualitative data gathered with employees of
    multinational companies show that insecurity
    related to jobs was common in all levels of the
    firms. In the case of the modular consortium,
    managers and shop floor workers were equally
    concerned about losing their jobs.
  • Would it be possible to think of a strategic
    worker in situations like that? In terms of
    payment, the modular system has imposed an equal
    pay to all workers of the firms.

Comments and questions
  • About working time flexibility and work intensity
    (different forms of gender segregation Value
    chain restructuring does not cause much change
    gender composition, but reproduces existing
  • The intensity of work -gt one of the main
    characteristics of the flexible jobs in the
    formal economy.
  • The challenge of thinking working time
    flexibility in labour markets that are consituted
    by the combination of formal with informal jobs.
  • Flexibility of labour relations in labour markets
    with high level of informality -gt intensity of
    work with insecurity.

Comments and questions
  • Working time flexibility
  • The less clear border separating the territory of
    work and the territory of private life, of home,
    of family -gt important issue associated to the
    intensification of work.
  • Workers in the formal labour market feel
    responsible for their own improvement and dont
    see the requirements for more qualification as
    responsibility of the firm, but their own
  • Like in Europe, different forms of gender
    segregation are also present in organizations,
    but in the Brazilian example, there is no
    regulated par-time work, and jobs for women are
    usually connected to domestic work.

Comments and questions
  • Atypical working schedules -gt in countries with
    less formalised labour markets there has been an
    even greater relation between working hours at
    unusual times and informal labour relations.
  • The presence of atypical forms of work in the
    value chain -gt work cooperatives, precarious
    jobs, slave labour.
  • The gender dimension remains transversal along
    all occupations and countries -gt but it is also
    important to identify the work of children
    (mainly girls) in the household.

For discussion
  • Flexibility and work in underveloped countries
  • Unusual experiences of flexibility
  • Influence of localities in the process of
    re-organising production in the value chain
  • Trade unions -gt different sorts of resistance
    inside and outside the firms
  • Flexibility and the informal labour market
  • Atypical forms of work
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